Bracknell Forest encourages e-citizenship

Bracknell Forest borough council claims to have created the first e-government solution that gives citizens access to...

Bracknell Forest borough council claims to have created the first e-government solution that gives citizens access to personalised information.

The service, developed in partnership with Novell and Metastorm, will provide residents with a secure, digital identity that they can use to communicate with council officers.

Council taxpayers will be able to view their accounts, apply for discounts, change their personal details and make payments by direct debit, credit or debit card. Up-to-date information on planning applications will also be made available.

"There is no longer the need for citizens to stand in queues at the payment office or spend time on the telephone asking for clarification on rumours of land development projects," said council chief executive Gordon Mitchell.

The Bracknell e-government portal is based on Novell Net Services software, providing a foundation for developing further online services such as electronic voting, benefit payments and the creation of e-communities. The council already has plans to introduce online application forms for public permits and online payment for recreation services.

Commenting on the service launch, Simon Norbury of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions' local government modernisation team said: "We are keen to encourage all local authorities to develop suitable online solutions that draw all tiers of government closer to their constituents."

The council estimates that 50% of local residents have home access to the Internet, while free public access points in local libraries and council offices are available to those without.

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